Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars. SpaceX operates from many pads, on the East Coast of the US they operate from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and historic LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center. They also operate from SLC-4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, usually for polar launches. Another launch site is being developed at Boca Chica, Texas.
The Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit was a boilerplate version of the Dragon spacecraft. After using it for ground tests to rate Dragon's shape and mass in various tests, SpaceX launched it into low Earth orbit on the maiden flight of the Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX used the launch to evaluate the aerodynamic conditions on the spacecraft and performance of the carrier rocket in a real-world launch scenario, ahead of Dragon flights for NASA under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program.